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Ajamu Baraka: Report Back From Peace Delegation To China

Ajamu Baraka reports back from the four-person delegation from the US Peace Council, where he serves on the Executive Committee, to Beijing and Shanghai China.

The delegation was hosted by the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament between November 21 and November 26th, 2023.

Watch the US Peace Council Report Back:

I participated in a four-person delegation from the US Peace Council, where I serve on the Executive Committee, to Beijing and Shanghai, China hosted by the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament between November 21 and November 26, 2023.

One of my roles was to engage our hosts in a conversation on the interconnected issues of diplomacy and the Global Security Initiative proposed by the Chinese President, Xi Jingping.

Below are the salient points raised during those discussions. -Ajamu Baraka

On the issue of Chinese diplomacy, it is important to note that the Chinese approach is a significant departure from the crisis oriented, zero-sum diplomacy that is characteristic of diplomacy emanating from the West.

This was a particularly important element that we addressed in our discussions with members of Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament, various specialists on China and in a meeting with representatives from the Chinese Communist Party.

What is clear is that on the issue of diplomacy there is a fundamental divergence in core values. The principles articulated by President Xi Jinping reflected an approach to diplomacy. Those principles included a commitment to:

“Building a community with a shared future for mankind with a view to defending world peace and promoting common development”

“Pursuing peaceful development on the basis of mutual respect and win-win cooperation”

“Steering the reform of the global governance system under the principle of fairness and justice”

In contrast, U.S. diplomacy has at its core a value system that is informed by the doctrine of “full spectrum dominance,” a military/political doctrine produced by the U.S. Department of Defense that had its genesis in the worldview and principles of the Neocon “Project for a New American Century” (PNAC) that has now become an essential feature of the U.S. National Security Strategy.

Dominance was seen as encompassing elements beyond just the ability to project U.S. military power globally but to also include economic, political, and even cultural dominance through the use of information, media and entertainment and all aspects of knowledge production.

It is a doctrine that explicitly sees the rise of any regional power as a threat, despite its political and ideological orientation. So while it will identify Venezuela as a threat for U.S. regional hegemony in the Americas because of its socialistic orientation and capacity to galvanize resistance to U.S. hegemony, U.S. policy also will and did see Ethiopia in the Africa continent, a government largely committed to economic policies that could only be characterized as neoliberal with a political orientation that could not be characterized as radical at all – still, nevertheless, found itself on the receiving end of U.S. subversion because of its size and growing friendliness toward China.

We have witnessed concretely the results of the Chinese approach with the historic agreement brokered by the Chinese between Saudi Arabia and Iran that effectively ended the Obama war in Yemen.

The other fascinating initiative that we discussed was the Global Security Initiative (GSI).

Introduced by President Xi Jingping, the GSI is seen as a basis for structuring a new global security architecture that corresponds to the challenges of this historical moment.

President Xi advanced six principles that are defined as commitments that if adhered to would theoretically provide security for states and peoples.

  1. It is necessary to stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security, and work together to maintain world peace and security.
  2. It is necessary to stay committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all counties, uphold non-interference in internal affairs, and respect the independent choices of development paths and social systems made by people in different countries
  3. Stay committed to abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, reject cold war mentality, oppose unilateralism, and say no to group politics and bloc confrontations
  4. It is necessary to stay committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously, uphold the principle of indivisible security, build a balanced, effective, and sustainable security architecture, and oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security.
  5. Stay committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation, support all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crisis, reject double standards, and oppose the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction
  6. It is necessary to stay committed to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains and work together on regional disputes and global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cyber-security and bio-security.

What we discussed was that for the issue of diplomacy and any global initiative for security, it is necessary to correctly contextualize, without any sentimentality or idealism, the objective realities of this historical moment.

What informs and shapes contemporary reality of this conjuncture is the ongoing crisis of global capitalism and the transition from Western colonial/capitalist domination of the last five hundred years to new power configurations and social systems that have not yet taken a permanent form but, nevertheless, are in dialectical emergence.

The rulers of international capital primarily based in the U.S. are no longer fit any longer to rule and impose their conditions of existence upon the societies and nations of the planet.

The last four decades of neoliberal policies favoring capital have seen neoliberal financialized capitalism turn to unproductive plunder as a result of losing its productive dynamism.

Therefore, unilateralism, hegemonism and power politics, including the attempts to impose a so-called rule-based international order, where the U.S. and its Western allies make the rules and enforce the order, their order – cannot be understood outside the context of ongoing and deepening crisis of the international capitalist order and the increasingly desperate and dangerous attempts by Western imperialism under the leadership of the United States to prevent this inevitable historical transition.

It is this context of national and class struggle that contextualizes any discussion of the security of states, international law, the role of the United Nations.

The dialectics of the global class national struggles makes it exceedingly difficult to establish a permanent security architecture unless it is grounded in a firm commitment on the part of a majority of global humanity to enforce adherence to progressive global values and end impunity.

The genocide taking place in Palestine right before the eyes of the world with the non-Western world seemingly unable to come to the aid of the Palestinians and to bring the perpetrators of the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to justice, is a graphic example of the disparity between the commitment to new global principles and the concrete material force needed to protect the security of states and peoples.

Is the plight of Palestinian people a domestic internal affair for the state of Israel or a threat to international peace and security? What about the security of the people of Haiti as the United Nations have given a green light to the U.S. and the oppressive core group members to engage in a violent intervention into that nation in order to prop-up an illegitimate government and deny the agency of the Haitian people to govern themselves.

Peace, security, international development, and human rights were the four interlinked pillars of the United Nations system. Yet, the naked exposure of the power politics that reflect the unequal relationship between the West and the rest of the world, has shaken faith in the UN system and the utility of discussions on human rights and peace.

Peace and human rights are still laudable goals but what I shared with our Chinese counterparts was that without global structures of non-state, popular accountability – grounded in the principles that we discussed in China, global humanity will be unable to manage the momentous changes that we are currently facing and it will be impossible to manage those changes in a way that would reflect a commitment to peace.

I shared the definition of peace from the black radical peace tradition:

“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather the achievement by popular struggle and self-defense of a world liberated from the interlocking issues of global conflict …through the defeat of global systems of oppression that include colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy, and white supremacy.”

This approach to peace is a call to action. A call for strengthening the ties among the peoples of the world, but its implications regarding the enemies of peace are absolutely clear and will not be wished away with the magical incantation of words, no matter how advance and correct those words might be. Peace and imperialism are the antithesis of each other representing an irreconcilable contradiction. Peace that is sustainable will only emerge out of the crucible of the global anti-colonial, anti-imperialist struggle that sees the victory of the organized peoples of the world. That is the task, the mission, and the responsibility of the international peace movement.

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